Type 97 Chi-Ha
Type 97 Chi-Ha
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[Client Values; Actual values in
|220240 HP Hit Points|
|15.04/15.915.97/18 t Weight Limit|
- Gunner (Loader)
- Radio Operator
|170240 hp Engine Power|
|40/15 km/h Speed Limit|
|3032 deg/s Traverse|
|11.315.03 hp/t Power/Wt Ratio|
|25/25/20 mm Hull Armor|
|35/25/2535/25/25 mm Turret Armor|
|75/75/9570/70/90 HP Damage|
|30/55/2881/122/25 mm Penetration|
|r/m 20 r/m 20 Rate of Fire|
See here, here, or here for more information.
See here, here, or here for more information.
See here, here, or here for more information.
See here, here, or here for more information.
▲1999.9 Damage Per Minute
With 50% Crew: 0.57 m
With 50% Crew: 0.545 m
|s 2.3 s 2.3 Aim time|
|3030 deg/s Turret Traverse|
|360° Gun Arc|
|-9°/+20°-15°/+20° Elevation Arc|
|114100 rounds Ammo Capacity|
|1515 % Chance of Fire|
|m 310 m 330 View Range|
|m 350 m 550 Signal Range|
Developed by Mitsubishi from 1935 through 1937. The vehicle was mass-produced from 1938 through 1942, alongside an upgraded Shinhoto Chi-Ha from 1941 through 1942. A total of 1,220 vehicles of both types were manufactured. The Chi-Ha and the Shinhoto Chi-Ha tanks were widely used by Japanese forces in China, the Pacific Theater, and the Kuril Islands. After the surrender of Japan, these vehicles were used by both PLA and Kuomintang forces in the Chinese Civil War from 1946 through 1949.
The Type 97 Chi-Ha leads to the Type 1 Chi-He.
Modules / Available Equipment and Consumables
|Turret||Turret Armor (front/sides/rear)
|Turret Traverse Speed
|II||Type 97 Chi-Ha||35/25/25||30||310||1300||1000|
|III||Type 97 Chi-Ha Shinhoto||35/25/25||30||330||1839||2100|
|Chance of Fire on Impact
|IV||Type 100 Suirei V-12||200||15||630||8600|
|IV||Type 100 Kuurei V-12||240||15||630||10500|
|II||Type 97 Chi-Ha||15.9||30||B/2||5000||900|
|III||Type 97 Chi-Ha Kai||18||32||B/2||5000||1750|
Pros and Cons
- Best alpha damage and penetration on its tier, coupled with good rate of fire and DPM
- Good view range
- Versatile, can fit multiple roles
- Low engine power, struggles to reach its top speed even with top engine
- Below average agility
- Relatively large silhouette and lacking in armor
Functionally similar to the Type-2597 Chi-Ha in the Chinese Tree, one should adopt a similar play style when using this tank. While this tank is designated as a medium tank, this versatile machine is capable of taking on multiple roles in a match.
As a scout, the Chi-Ha possesses excellent view range (on par with light scouts, like the Luchs and M3 Stuart) and arguably the best radio of its tier, with a range of 700 meters. Unfortunately, these advantages are mitigated by its dismal speed limit of 40 km/h (a limit that even the top engine must struggle to reach) and its large silhouette (which discourages passive scouting). As a combat tank or TD, the Chi-Ha benefits from an ample health reservoir and its excellent top gun, which provides a good balance of penetration, alpha damage and reload time (arguably the best in its tier). Its thin armor, however, will do little to protect it in a brawl, and while you may be blessed with a lucky bounce, the Chi-Ha cannot be relied on to win battles against its (predominately faster and more maneuverable) peers, never mind Tier IVs and Vs. The Chi-Ha has an excellent gun for its tier, capable of penetrating anything it will face in its tier and most of the tier after from the front. Combined with a reasonably good firing rate, the Chi-Ha would come off as a good surrogate TD were it not for its dismally large silhouette and its underwhelming maneuverability.
Due largely to its uncomfortable position, the Chi-Ha is forced to adapt as necessary to its situation, switching between those three roles when necessary. The Chi-Ha's low speed will prevent it from adequately moving ahead of the team as a passive scout compared to its friskier scout peers, and so during this time, the Chi-Ha best shines as a support tank, hanging behind and using its powerful gun to discourage enemy scouts or pick off unwary targets thanks to its great radio range. In the mid game, the Chi-Ha can take up the task of scouting if other scouts are unavailable, or can continue as a second-line sniper. By the endgame, the Chi-Ha's great gun and health pool will allow it to easily pick off weakened enemies before they can do enough damage. Provided that it supports and is supported by its peers, the Chi-Ha can fill multiple roles comfortably as a second-line scout or combat tank. If players using this tank support offensives instead of spearheading them, they will be more useful and will rack up more kills. Let the lighter tanks soften up targets, and then pound them into oblivion with the top gun. The tank is also useful when clearing light tanks bogging up an attack (they can be powerful with autocannons!). The Chi-Ha will easily bounce most auto-cannon rounds, and easily blast away enemy light tanks or send them running.
Although it has a rather steep learning curve, the Chi-Ha is a versatile tank that has a very powerful gun for its tier, and will reward anyone who plays cautiously and takes calculated risks. It has been said that the maneuverability and speed is bad, but it is still faster than tanks like the AMX 38. If played like a medium tank instead of a light tank, the Chi-Ha will prove itself time and time again.
The Chi-Ha (“medium tank third”), or ordnance Type 97, referring to the imperial year 2597, was first preceded by a thorough examination of the main IJA medium tank by 1935, the Type 89 Chi-Ro. It had proven to be too slow to operate effectively on the wide expenses of China, and did not suit well with the new tactical requirements of motorized warfare, as seen particularly during the invasion of Manchuria. As a result, a new specification was issued to Japanese companies, among those Mitsubishi, which responded quickly with a design of its own, inspired by the fast light tank Ha-Go. The Tokyo Mitsubishi Heavy Industries complex delivered and tested the first prototype as early as April 1937, followed by a second one in June. As required by the ordnance, it had the same 57 mm (2.24 in) gun featured on the Type 89B. Meanwhile, Osaka Arsenal also delivered its prototype. Although cheaper than the former, it was ultimately rejected because of the end of all peacetime budgetary limitations, following the second Sino-Japanese war of June 1937.
Design of the Chi-Ha
The Mitsubishi design heavily relied on previous features present on the Ha-Go, as well as some innovations. These included a set of 12 buttons situated in the turret, linked to a corresponding set of buzzers which acted as instructions for the driver, as there was no intercom. The driver sat on the right and hull gunner to the left. The tank commander was also the gunner, sited inside the turret, and assisted by a loader/radioman/rear machine-gunner. Like previous models, the turret had no coaxial machine-gun, but a rear turret ballmount, housing a Type 97 machine-gun. The turret was equipped with a relatively large commander cupola. Later, a horse-shoe radio was mounted. This feature is unique among Japanese tanks, being very useful in identifying Chi-Ha vehicles in pictures. No machine-gun turret mount was provided for AA defense.
The suspension was a virtual repeat of the bell-crank system, but with an extra bogie. This gave a total of six road wheels on each side, two paired and two independent. This crude system was meant for easy maintenance, not comfort. The long, bolted hull, was still relatively low and narrow, making this model less maneuverable, but faster, more stable and more difficult to hit. The main gun, the Type 97 57 mm (2.24 in), was an infantry support piece of artillery, with low velocity and poor antitank capabilities. However, these were sufficient against most Chinese tanks of the time. It had no elevation gear. An interesting feature is that the gun had a limited traverse (10 degrees) inside the turret. Armor was slightly thicker than on the Ha-Go, ranging from 8 mm on the bottom (0.31 in), to 26 mm (1.02 in) for the turret sides, and up to 33 mm (1.3 in) on the gun mantlet. This was sufficient against 20 mm (0.79 in) and most 37 mm (1.46 in) weapons. However, the propulsion system was quite revolutionary, with a brand new V12, 21.7 liter diesel, air-cooled engine, developing 170 bhp at 2000 rpm (factory designation SA12200VD). This proved sturdy enough to be produced until 1943. and the Chi-Ha chassis-propulsion was successfully reused for other derivatives.
Chi-Ha production and evolution
By September 1939, around 300 units had been produced, and quickly tried in China. A more violent baptism of fire was received against Russian armor at Nomonhan Plateau (Battle of Khalkin Gol). Despite having good performances, these tanks proved themselves ill-matched against most Russian tanks, including lightly protected models like the BT-5/7. The Soviet models possessed high velocity 45 and 37 mm (1.77-1.46 in) main guns, which outranged the Japanese tanks. The Type 97 infantry gun proved useless during these engagements. The reports made after these events prompted an upgunning and upgrade effort inside the army. A new 47 mm (1.85 in) high velocity gun was developed and tried at the beginning of 1941. This new Type 1 gun required turret modifications, which resulted in the main variant of the type, the Type 97 kai. The Chi-Ha production ended early in 1942, with a total of 1162 being delivered. The production line was adapted for the new improved model.
The wartime evolution: Chi-Ha Shinhoto
The Type 97 Kai Shinhoto Chi-Ha was simply a rearmed model, using the new Type 1 47 mm (1.85 in) army gun. This long-barrel (2.5 m), high muzzle velocity (730 m/s) gun was developed when the Type 94 model proved insufficient to defeat the armor of most Russian tanks of the 1939-40 generation. The gun itself had been tested since 1938, and was at first rejected because of poor performance. But, after some improvements, it was quickly adopted by the IJA general staff as the new main antitank gun. A tank variant was developed by Osaka Arsenal, most being given to the new Shinhoto Chi-Ha. It had better performance, a muzzle velocity of 830 m/s (2,723 ft/s) and a maximum range of 6,900 m (7,546 yd). A total of 2300 of these guns were produced until 1945. The first Shinhoto prototype was ready only at the end of 1941, and production began early in 1942. This new model completely replaced the Chi-Ha on the factory line. When production finally stopped in 1943, 930 had been delivered, despite an army request for more than 2500. This was mostly due to the lack of raw materials the Japanese industry suffered daily. However, the Chi-Ha design was largely incorporated into the new Type 1 Chi-He and derivatives.
Variants and succession of the Chi-Ha
As the most largely produced and tested medium tank, the chassis was found suitable to create countless specialized variants during the war. – The amphibious Ka-Chi (19 built) and Ka-Tsu (6?), as well as the experimental To-Ku and Ka-Sha. – Many SPGs, starting with the turretless Type 1 Ho-Ni I and Ho-Ni II, and the Ho-Ni III tank destroyer (around 250 built). – The Type 2 Ho-I infantry support tank (30 converted by 1945), propelled by a new Type 100 diesel engine, and armed with a 75 mm (2.95 in) howitzer. – Heavy naval infantry support variant equipped with a 120 mm (4.72 in) short barreled gun for close support. An experimental long barrel was also tested with the naval Type 10 120 mm (4.72 in) AA Gun. – The Type 4 Ho-Ro howitzer carrier (about 25 produced), with a 150 mm (5.9 in) short-barrel Type 38 howitzer. – The Type 4 Na-To tank destroyer (2 built), used a chassis derived from the the Type 4 Chi-So tracked transport vehicle, itself derived from the Chi-Ha. – At least a dozen prototype SPGs and medium tanks until 1945. The Chi-Ha Shinhoto was also noted as the blueprint for the next generation of IJA tanks, notably the improved Type 1 Chi-He (around 170 produced) and Type 3 Chi-Nu (166).
The Chi-Ha was, along with the Ha-Go, the bulk of IJA and Navy armored forces in eastern Asia. They were the most often encountered Japanese tanks by the Allies during the entire conflict. It was largely deployed in China after the second invasion of 1937, easily outmatching the ill-equipped tank battalions of the National Revolutionary Army of China. Things began the become serious with the first deployment on the Russian border, during the incidents which led to the large scale battle of Nomonhan plateau, in September 1939. Here, only four Type 97s were incorporated into the 3rd Tank Regiment of the 1st Tank Corp under Lt. General Yasuoka Masaomi’s command. One of these, serving as the command tank, was stuck in a tank trap and burst into flames after being shot by several BT-5s, BT-7s and AT guns. Others were disabled, proving their main gun was no match for the Russian long range, high muzzle velocity weapons. Manchurian Type 97s that remained, once again fought against Soviet forces, in August 1945. By then, most Russian tanks were one generation ahead.
During the battle of Malaya and of Singapore, Yamashita’s 3rd Tank Group comprised dozens of Type 97. The 3rd Tank Company under First Lieutenant Yamane (Saeki Detachment) distinguished itself, spearheading the attack on the British defenses. The Chi-Ha proved capable of fending off thick jungle and seemingly impassable terrain, as did Guderian’s Panzers in the Ardennes, and were key to Yamashita’s victory. The 2nd and 14th Tank Regiments, also largely composed of Chi-Has, participated in the Burma campaign. In the Philippines, in May 1942, the first Shinhoto Chi-Ha entered in action against Wainwright’s armored forces, comprising mainly light M3 tanks. Their improved gun proved lethal, enabling the engaged Japanese units to conclude the battle of Corregidor with a crushing victory.
The next step was in the Eastern Indies (Indonesia), against the combined ABDA ground forces. Despite the muddy, hilly terrain, thick, soaky jungle, and scorching heath, some Type 97s participated in the operations, although in limited numbers. They were to be used in Papua/New Guinea, and some fought at Guadalcanal during the offensive of the Solomon islands.
Later, during the Pacific campaign, many Type 97s of the IJ Marines were posted in strategic islands, and found themselves engaged in desperate defensive actions. Their most notable intervention occurred during the combined offensive of Colonel Takashi Goto’s 9th Tank Regiment and Colonel Yukimatsu Ogawa’s 136rd Infantry Regiment, combining nearly sixty Chi-Ha and Ha-Go tanks, along with many tankettes, at Saipan, against the US 6th Marine Regiment. They were broken by a hellish fire from land (tanks and field artillery), sea (naval guns) and air. This was the last and largest Japanese offensive involving such armor during the conflict. On many other islands, Chi-Ha tanks were simply half buried in the ground, as defensive positions, since their armor proved largely inferior to the M4 Sherman and most Allied tanks sent in this sector. Numerical inferiority proved to be an issue too often. At Peleliu, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa, the few Type 97s left were outnumbered six up to ten to one, and a single infantry battalion counted several bazooka operators, all deadly against the Chi-Ha.The last production batches of the Shinhoto Chi-Ha, in 1943, were kept inside mainland Japan, provisioned for the future expected invasion. Other served as testbeds for many new vehicles, or converted for other purposes. Few have survived to this day. A sizable force of captured Chi-Has had been used against the communists, after the war, in China by Nationalist forces, and many have been captured during the war. Some possibly saw action during the Korean war, and some were retained in service by the new Indonesian army. Surviving examples today can be seen in the Japan Yushukan Museum (Tokyo) and Wakajishi Shrine (Fujinomiya, Shizuoka), Brawijaya Museum at Malang (Indonesia), at the People’s Liberation Museum, Beijing, China, and one was at the Aberdeen Proving Grounds in the United States. Countless rusty wrecks still haunt many Pacific islands today.
Sources and External Links
Chant, Christopher. (1996). Armoured Fighting Vehicles of the 20th Century, Tiger Books International, London.
Coox, Alvin D. (1985). Nomonhan; Japan Against Russia, 1939 (Two volumes). Stanford, California: Stanford University Press. ISBN 0-8047-1160-7.
Foss, Christopher (2003). Great Book of Tanks: The World's Most Important Tanks from World War I to the Present Day. Zenith Press. ISBN 0-7603-1475-6.
Foss, Christopher (2003). Tanks: The 500. Crestline. ISBN 0-7603-1500-0.
Gander, Terry J. (1995). Jane's Tanks of World War II. Harper Collins. ISBN 0-00-470847-4
Tomczyk, Andrzej (2007) . Japanese Armor Vol. 2. AJ Press. ISBN 978-8372371119.
Tomczyk, Andrzej (2005). Japanese Armor Vol. 4. AJ Press. ISBN 978-8372371676.
Zaloga, Steven J. (2007). Japanese Tanks 1939–45. Osprey. ISBN 978-1-8460-3091-8.
|Light Tanks||IRenault Otsu • IIType 95 Ha-Go • IIType 97 Te-Ke • IIIType 98 Ke-Ni • IVType 5 Ke-Ho|
|Medium Tanks||IIChi-Ni • IIType 89 I-Go/Chi-Ro • IIIType 97 Chi-Ha • IVType 1 Chi-He • VType 3 Chi-Nu • VType 3 Chi-Nu Kai • VIType 4 Chi-To • VIIType 5 Chi-Ri • VIIISTA-1 • VIIISTA-2 • IXType 61 • XSTB-1|
|Heavy Tanks||IIIType 91 Heavy • IVType 95 Heavy • VO-I Experimental • VIHeavy Tank No. VI • VIO-I • VIIO-Ni • VIIIO-Ho • IXType 4 Heavy • XType 5 Heavy|